Percy Goring

Percy Goring, soldier and farmer: born London 19 December 1894; married Daisy Gibbs (deceased; one son, one daughter); died Bunbury, Western Australia 27 July 2001.
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Percy Goring, soldier and farmer: born London 19 December 1894; married Daisy Gibbs (deceased; one son, one daughter); died Bunbury, Western Australia 27 July 2001.

Percy Goring, who has died at the age of 106, was the last known British veteran of the Allied landings at Gallipoli during the First World War.

He had enlisted in the Royal Engineers in 1915. After the failure of naval attacks in March that year, Allied troops landed on the Gallipoli peninsular and hoped to capture the high ground at Achi Baba and Sari Bair, but were met by a tenacious Turkish defence which pinned them down and prevented them reaching the narrows.

Throughout the war, Percy Goring always felt that someone was looking after him. As his ship landed at Suvla Bay, he clambered down the ropes on the side of the troop ship, in his full kit, to enter a boat that would carry him ashore but, much to his annoyance, his platoon was ordered to climb back up to unload the ship's supplies. However, as the boats landed, they were hit by Turkish artillery. Sensing the enemy were altering their range, his platoon ran round to the other side of the ship as a shell landed where they had been standing.

Weeks later, because of the intense heat, Goring was sitting on the edge of a trench when he spotted the observer on a German aircraft dropping what looked like a ball. As Goring threw himself in the trench, he was covered in mud from the exploding bomb.

As an engineer, he was involved in digging underground tunnels beneath the Turkish lines and planting explosives. He was also involved in wiring parties where both sides had come to an agreement that, if one went forward to repair their wire, then the others would do the same and not open fire. He recalled being only yards from "Johnny Turk" as they carried out the repairs. He worked alongside the Anzacs throughout most of his time on the peninsular.

Returning one night he felt something brush his face. He was to discover that it was the hand of a corpse from a trench overflowing with dead soldiers. He later recalled: "What with poor food and shortage of water, illness, particularly dysentery, soon began to make itself felt. We were permanently filthy. Food was covered in flies, billions of them, and our blankets and uniforms were full of lice." After more than eight months of hellish conditions, fierce fighting, muddle and incompetence, the Allied armies withdrew in January 1916. They left behind 100,000 Turkish dead and 46,000 of their own men.

Goring was then sent to Palestine, where the Egyptian-based British Army, which included many Anzacs, attacked the Turks at Gaza on several occasions. On his return to England he went into the millinery business with his father and brother. He served in the Second World War in the Home Guard, having been commissioned as a Major.

In 1948 Goring emigrated with his wife to Australia. Instead of taking the normal route by sea, he chose to fly by Sunderland Flying Boat. He undertook a number of jobs before moving to Darkan, south-east of Perth, where he ran a farm. Always active even after his retirement, he hung on to three wishes: first, to make it to 100 years of age; second, to return to Gallipoli; and third, to live in three centuries. He was proud of the fact that he achieved all these targets.

With the recent loss of Roy Longmore, the last Australian survivor, there remains only one survivor of Gallipoli, who lives in Hobart, Tasmania.

Max Arthur